By Esenvosa Izah
Lagos – Mental health awareness on social media is the most current trend in mental health practice in Nigeria, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Tomi Imarah, has said.
Imarah made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos, while commenting on the World Mental Health Day marked annually on Oct. 10.
NAN reports that theme for the 2018 Day is: “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.’’
The consultant psychiatrist runs an online Mental Health Counselling Service, “Dr Tomi’s Haven’’ via her facebook page, @drtomihaven.
According to her, with less than 500 psychiatrists available to a population of 190 million people, it is impossible to cater for all people with mental health challenges.
“We are developing all sorts of elaborate and innovative ways to deliver mental health care in Nigeria.
“We are gradually cycling back to that era where health promotion is the backbone of healthcare.
“We no longer wait for patients to walk in through the door of our clinics.
“Rather, we utilise all social media platforms to foster social reach and engagements to ensure that mental health awareness is spread to the populace.
“Every Oct.10 is the World Mental Health Day and the theme is Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.
“This epitomises our advocacy that young people are significant proportion of our population and they spend a lot of their time on social media.
“In fact, they have their own community online entirely,’’ she said.
Imarah said that community psychiatry would be deficient if it did not reach out to young adults in their terrain.
The consultant said psychiatrists and other mental health advocates were spearheading emotional and mental wellbeing campaigns on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, among others.
“We use slogans and hash tags such as #MentalHealthAwareness; #MentalHealth; and #StressLess to get the attention of young adults and people who have an affinity for social media.
“For people that are not keyed into news and social media, other approaches are being developed to make mental health awareness extend to them in their communities.
“For example, Prof. Abiodun Adewuya, a Consultant at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, has an ongoing mental health in primary care.
“It is a Lagos project sponsored by an organisation, Grand Challenges Canada.
“The project is designed to integrate mental health into the existing primary healthcare system of the state, so that more people can have access to knowledge of mental health and wellbeing.
“Through these multiple channels, we are able to spread the message about new innovations in mental health,’’ Imarah said